So I had a show night before last in Lake of the Ozarks, MO. I was about an hour early for the show because I had the showtime wrong so I was hanging out in the back of the showroom and besides the staff there was only one other person there — a lady sitting at the next booth over. I was playing around with my Blackberry when she started talking to me.
LADY: Are you here for the show tonite?
ME: Yes I am.
LADY: Well then get up there on that stage and dance for me. I need to be entertained while I’m waiting.
There was no indication that I was part of the show. And there was no hint of a smile or a joke on her face. She didn’t blink. She was dead serious. And I was livid. I gave her the big eyes and said, “Oh there will be no dancing” and then continued doing what I was doing. But after a minute or two I was so heated I had to get up and move myself over to the bar. I really wanted to hit her — not like in an imaginary dream sequence, but in living color. I was trying to figure out if there was another way I could take that, without jumping right to the fact that it was the most racist thing I’ve heard in years. But I couldn’t come up with anything.
I was sooooo angry and I wanted to address it on stage, but since no one else had witnessed it, I knew I was just gonna ruin the show for the headliner and the other 99% of the audience. The show ended up going really well for me but I still kinda felt like a punk for not getting at her. On my way back to the hotel I called my Dad, and he basically just told me to take my money and let it go. He’s had to deal with tons of racist comments being one of just a handful of black folks that worked at his company for 30+ years. And I know he was right. My job is to give a good show and get invited back. Releasing that venom definitely would have made me feel better, but it probably would have ensured that I’d never play the venue again.
I’m a bit of a hot head, and learning to pick my battles is a difficult thing for me, but when things like this happen I guess they’re just an opportunity for growth.